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Rafah blockade intensifies 'war on women' in Gaza: UN

Rafah blockade intensifies 'war on women' in Gaza: UN. (AFP)
10 June 2024 20:28

ISIDORA CIRIC (ABU DHABI)

The war in Gaza is “a war on women”, as ongoing hostilities have pushed women and girls into extreme hunger, with 70% experiencing weight loss in the past month and 80% relying solely on food assistance as the main source of nutrition, UN Women said on Monday.

Gaza has been experiencing its worst humanitarian crisis to date. As the conflict enters its ninth month, the most vulnerable are the most affected, with women and girls bearing the brunt, UN Women reported in its latest Gender Alert.

“Women generally — and female heads of households, older women, and women with disabilities in particular — face serious security and protection threats when attempting to access food distribution,” the report said.

UN Women data from April 2024 revealed that 80% of women in Gaza depend on food assistance. Moreover, 83.5% of women reported that the assistance they received did not meet their household needs, which is not surprising, considering that the Rafah Crossing, a key entry point of humanitarian assistance, has been closed for over a month now due to the ongoing military operation by the Israeli army. As a result, 7 in 10 women interviewed by UN Women reported weight loss in the past 30 days, and half reported experiencing frequent dizziness.

The only operational crossing, Kerem Shalom, has seen a “sharp decrease” in the number of aid shipments, UNRWA warned, with only 234 trucks reaching Gaza since the beginning of June.

The most vulnerable — pregnant and lactating women — face “the highest health and malnutrition risks” among the population of Gaza, UN Women added, with Action Against Hunger reporting recently that over half a million children and mothers are in need of nutritional assistance. This group of women also faces difficulties accessing proper treatment and care, as the crippled healthcare system cannot support the growing number of injured and is forced to prioritise only high-risk cases, UNFPA regional director told Aletihad in a previous interview.

“The current Israeli military operation in Rafah is directly impacting the ability of aid agencies to bring critical humanitarian supplies into Gaza as well as the ability to rotate critical humanitarian staff,” UNRWA said in its latest situation report.

As of last week, almost all internally displaced people left Rafah in search for safer locations in areas like Khan Younis, a former military operation hotspot, where over 80% of buildings were destroyed and the rest were rendered inhabitable, according to the municipality’s initial assessments.

The lack of continuous food supply in the war-ridden enclave, as well as frequent displacements and healthcare decimation due to military operations in different parts of Gaza, have led 2.2 million of its residents into “the world’s most brutal man-made humanitarian crisis”, UN women said.

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